Thai eating continues

Chris enjoyed the Thai minced turkey stir-fry I made this week, so much that for our weekly delivery, he ordered from one of our local favorites, Pure Thai Cookhouse. While many restaurants have closed that we used to frequent, such as LaSalle Dumpling Room two blocks away from us (they still have a location open in Harlem), Pure Thai Cookhouse is still going strong with its usual menu and specials, and our other regular spot, Rice and Beans, has re-opened with new management and a new name — Nelore Grill. The menu is still the same thankfully, and we also found that since the chef is the same, the food is also, thank goodness, still the same and super delicious!

This pandemic has been really rough, particularly on small businesses, and so we’ve been happy to see that some are still continuing to go strong… and feed us. 🙂

Hot Thai Kitchen inspiration

Thai food is likely one of my all-time favorite cuisines in the world. For me, it really has the best of everything: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, umami, and extremely complex. All the different herbs and fresh ingredients put together with different shrimp and fish-based pastes make for one explosion of flavor in the mouth after the other. Unless you just do not like flavor, Thai food is just one of the most delicious and complex cuisines in the world.

Unfortunately, here in the U.S., where we’ve basically taken complex and high-skill cuisines such as Chinese and Thai and “sweetified” them — that is to say, loaded them with so much sugar that we just expect iterations of their dishes to be sweet and sickly, a lot of people have no idea how multi-layered and deep Thai or Chinese flavors can be. They just haven’t been exposed to it because the people want and/or expect sweet, so the Thai business owners will often cater to those tastes and make their dishes sweeter. I mean, it *is* a business, right, and they need to make money to pay their bills and survive, so why not give the people what they want?

I’ve learned so much from Pai from Hot Thai Kitchen via her YouTube channel on the complexities of Thai cooking and how to make a lot of these favorite dishes at home with authentic flavors, a few shortcuts, and her recommended techniques. One of the things I’ve recently gotten excited about were her recommended Maesri Thai curry spice pastes. They are readily available and really tasty. She offers her doctored version of these pastes just by adding a few additional ingredients to make them more well rounded and “Thai,” and suggests uses for them other than making curries and stews. One of her suggestions, which I just did today, was to use the paste as just that – a spice paste to flavor minced meat and vegetables in a stir fry. I used some ground turkey I got from Costco, threw in a bunch of greens, chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, and ended it all with a squeeze of lime, and it was likely one of the fastest, most satisfying dishes I’ve made in a while.

Quick and easy Thai cooking is possible, like many other cuisines, as long as you have certain ingredients on hand!

Comedians on death and loss

I’ve seen Chelsea Handler on and off on a few of the shows that we watch, including The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but I never really thought much of watching her standups or shows until she talked about how she had a therapy session and came to the realization that she lacked empathy and needed to build it. I’ve occasionally heard her reference her brother who passed away, but I had no idea how he passed or what her relationship was to him.

The other day, we watched one of her standup specials that was filmed this past summer in New Jersey. She talked about her older brother Chet, and how he used to come home from school and she would try to “take care” of him by “serving” him a big bowl of his favorite cereal. They were close and had a special relationship. He was leaving for a hiking trip in Wyoming, and he promised that they’d spend time together when he came back. He never came back because during his hike, he fell off a cliff and died. She was only nine years old, and he was 22. As soon as she heard the news that Chet had died falling off a cliff, her immediate response was to take all the cereal boxes in the kitchen and throw them away.

As soon as I heard this, I just immediately started crying. It was like an automatic response to this awful shock and tragedy that she and her family had to face. Through work with her therapist, it was unclear whether she was more traumatized by the fact that he died, or rather that he made a promise to be with her again but never came back, or maybe both. Every time I hear stories of sibling deaths and siblings’ reactions to the deaths, I can barely handle myself. It’s just too much raw pain and trauma. His death happened over 30 years ago, yet it stays with her until this day and continues to shape how she sees the world and deals with life events.

I guess that’s also me, too, with Ed. Others don’t really get it until it happens to them.

Autumn “forbidden” fruit

Pomegranate is most likely THE fruit I look forward to every autumn season as September rolls around the corner. I love persimmons, particularly the gooey hachiya persimmons that my grandma loved so much every fall, but pomegranates are a really hard fruit to hate. They look beautiful when you cut into them, and those little seeds bursting with brightness and juice are like tiny little jewels. It’s no wonder that they are used so often in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking because they are just so stunning to look at. And… it should also come as no surprise that pomegranates are considered the “forbidden fruit,” as once upon a time in Greek mythology, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, ate just two of these pomegranate seeds after being kidnapped into the underworld by Hades, therefore locking her into the world of darkness for half the year.

I think the biggest issue with pomegranates, or why people feel that these are difficult fruit, can be broken into a few reasons: 1) they are hard to cut and not make a total mess if you don’t know what you’re doing, 2) not everyone likes eating the seeds after sucking out the juices, and 3) it’s a bit hit or miss when choosing a pomegranate at the store. Sometimes, you can luck out, cut it open, and get all beautiful perfect jewels of seeds. Another time, you may inadvertently pick one where half or more of the seeds have already rotted, rendering the fruit nearly inedible.

So we’ll address points 1 and 3 since you can’t really push preferences on people. For 1, you just need to make sure you’re not cutting into it like an apple; cut a square off the top, then cut four lines at each “angle” of the fruit, and peel (more like an orange. That will allow you to segment the fruit into neat portions without squirting juice everywhere.

For 3, make sure to choose a pomegranate that feels heavy for its size. Also, pick one that IS NOT round; you want one that is a bit square-ish/angled. This indicates that the juicy seeds inside are bursting with ripeness and are good for eating. Lastly, look at the top stem. If it looks like the top is peeling downward, it will be ready to eat!

Hello, Biden and Harris!

Two days ago, on Saturday morning, we were sitting on our couch and suddenly heard screaming, clapping, and pots clanging outside our window. Within minutes, we got news alerts on our phones saying that Biden had won Pennsylvania, ultimately securing him the 10 additional electoral votes he needed to win the presidential election. I could not believe it. I mean, I could, but I was numb on Election Day, pissed the day after that the race was so close, and increasingly getting angrier and angrier to see that even MORE people had cast ballots for Trump than in 2016… he’s at about 71 million votes now. But none of that matters since he’s not going to be in the White House come January, 20, 2021. Joe and Jill Biden are moving in, and hopefully, they will help heal this country and bring a bit more normalcy and less drama into the White House and this country.

We went out and celebrated across Columbus Circle, Times Square, Union Square, and Washington Square Park. I’d never quite seen New York City this way; the people were out with signs, instruments, making noise, singing and cheering like never before. It was like for once this entire year, we’ve finally had some good news.

Yet President Dipshit is making false claims about voter fraud constantly and refusing to concede, and his 71 million supporters will be on his side because of this continued malinformation. I’m genuinely concerned about what will happen if he really does fail to concede and his idiot Republican colleagues continue to back up his false claims, and what his tens of millions of voters will do to continue the malinformation that Trump made the “new normal” since even before he took office.

This country… truly is a mess.

Where I Buy food series

A new vlog series I’m starting to work on is around where I buy my groceries and food items. Chris suggested to me a few days ago that he thinks that I would really enjoy shooting these videos because his general opinion is that while I do love cooking a lot, I actually love discovering, finding, and picking ingredients even more. I’m not sure how I feel about that because my love and obsession with cooking and trying to cook new foods is pretty large, but yes, I do love sourcing ingredients a lot, and I visibly get excited when I find something new for a good deal. It’s Sunday, two days after we went to Costco in Connecticut, and I am still obsessing and glowing over the wild chanterelles I found there. Usually, chanterelles are seasonal, and given how popular they are, I have never seen them for less than $24-30 per pound! I’d always contemplated splurging on them just once at these prices and just indulging, but I could never actually bring myself to do it.

Thankfully, because so many companies are either fully online or have an online presence, sourcing ingredients has become easier than ever before!

Holidays at Costco

Since we had a car yesterday, we also decided to make a needed stop at Costco. We go to Costco about once per quarter, and so it was finally time to come back and stock up on staples such as toilet paper, meat, nuts, frozen items, and of course, fresh fruits and vegetables.

I had almost forgotten how much I love visiting Costco during the holiday season. Growing up, I always went with my parents to Costco, and the period between Halloween and Christmas was always the best time to go because Costco would have the most elaborate holiday setups, from Halloween costumes to Christmas decorations and gift sets. I love the endless rows of Christmas chocolates and cookies they have, plus the elaborate meat and cheese gift baskets they always have lined up. Even though I personally never buy them, simply seeing them always gets me feeling happy and a little giddy. When at home, occasionally my dad used to indulge and get a few Christmas chocolate or cookie tins; our favorites were always the Belgian chocolate biscuit tins. But with Chris and me, it seems a bit too indulgent to get these items… especially since Chris is pretty happy with his Arnott’s biscuits. There’s no way I’d never eat all these myself before they became stale.

One pleasant surprise we saw in the produce section were rambutans — my lovely red-haired, hard-shelled Southeast Asian fruit. These actually were not grown in Asia, but actually in Honduras, and the shells looked more reddish-brown color rather than the usual magenta-deep red hue. I can’t wait to eat these!

Day trip to Connecticut for apizza

Chris and I took the day off from work today and rented a Zipcar to do a day trip to Connecticut. Since we used a Zipcar twice during the summer for some day trips, I suppose Zipcar wanted our business back, so they offered Chris a $50 voucher to use through the middle of this month, so we decided to take advantage of it. While we are in the first week of November, the autumn leaves were intense and gorgeous along many of the roads and highways that we drove through. I just love this part about living in the Northeast; you don’t get these colors out in California for sure. I still remember always seeing fall leaves on TV shows and movies growing up and always wondering, “How come we don’t see that here in San Francisco?”

We did a mini food tour of the New Haven Little Italy area today by going to three different New Haven style pizza spots: Sally’s, Pepe’s Pizzeria, and Modern Apizza. Until about 10 years ago, I actually had no idea that New Haven was famous for pizza. “New Haven style pizza” is also known as “apizza,” which the New Haven take on coal-oven fired, thin crust Neopolitan pizza. The name “apizza” comes from the accent of the immigrants who settled in this area from Italy. While I loved all four of the pizzas we got (from Pepe’s, we got two different types!), my absolute favorite was definitely the Pepe’s white clam pizza. While I’ve definitely had white pizza and clam pizza before, I’d never had a white clam pizza that was THIS FRESH. The clams were insanely fresh; they just screamed of the ocean with their seafood-y flavor and their saltiness. And the white pizza base was just perfect – just a little cheesy, very garlicky, and a lovely, crunchy, charred flavor.

My cousin loves this pizza and told me that we could actually get the pizza delivered to New York City via Goldbelly. Honestly, that’s not a bad idea…

Workplace honeymoon is over

This is my sixth week at my new company, and I can honestly say officially that my honeymoon period is over. Not everything is glossy and shiny and beautiful. Not everyone is incredibly friendly, kind, and eager to help anymore. As of last week, I already began doing “real work” with customers, and so the training wheels are pretty much off now. I’m not necessarily complaining, but just speaking of the reality.

While I’m certainly at a company that is a hundred times better than the last one, I’m no longer looking at everything through rose-colored glasses and thinking, “ahhhh, what a good life here.” I’ve already encountered some passive aggression, the usual sales vs. customer success hostility and territorial feelings, plus some issues with management that just seem a bit too pushy and too sales, not necessarily how I would define “customer success” at a SaaS organization.

And still, we wait.

Yesterday, other than a quick news briefing over my NPR Up First podcast and a few NYT news alerts on my phone, I refused to look at news at all. No constantly checking CNN or NPR or the New York Times; definitely NO looking at Fox News or any insane right-wing malformation center the way I did the day of the presidential election in 2016. Nope. I was not going to repeat all those awful, paranoid, anxious actions I did four years ago. This time, I was going to sit and wait until this was really final.

Well, I woke up this morning hoping to get an update one way or another, crossing my fingers that the election was swaying in Biden-Harris’s direction. I had a gut feeling this would be a very close election; I refused to listen to all the idiots on the left in their own bubbles, insisting that many Trump supporters would have come to their senses, particularly given the awful way he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. And as of this morning, when I immediately went to check my NYT and BBC apps… it’s looking painfully close; so close that I can taste the anger and bitterness in my mouth.

This is not a referendum on Trump. Nope. This is a referendum on the American people. This is exactly how stupid we are that we have made every excuse in the book for Trump, from his blatant sexism, racism, xenophobia, all the way to his total disregard, lack of care, and empathy for all of those who have suffered and/or died directly and indirectly from COVID-19.

I’m pissed today. I just feel so, so fed up with this entire country.